16 March 2023
Tower announces first heterogeneous integration of QD lasers on SiPho foundry platform
Specialty analog foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd of Migdal Haemek, Israel, in collaboration with Quintessent Inc of Santa Barbara, CA, USA, which specializes in laser integration with silicon photonic integrated circuits (PICs), have announced what they claim is the first heterogeneous integration of gallium arsenide (GaAs) quantum dot (QD) lasers and a foundry silicon photonics (SiPho) platform (PH18DB). This PH18DB platform is targeted at optical transceiver modules in data centers and telecom networks, as well as new emerging applications in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), light detection & ranging (LiDAR) and other sensors. According to the market research firm LightCounting, the silicon photonics transceiver market is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24%, reaching a total addressable market (TAM) of $9bn in 2025.
The new PH18DB platform offers GaAs-based QD lasers and semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA) fabricated on Tower’s high-volume base PH18M silicon photonics foundry technology, which includes low-loss waveguides, photodetectors and modulators heterogeneously integrated on a single silicon chip. This platform will enable dense PICs that can support higher channel count in a small form factor. Open foundry availability of this 220nm silicon-on-insulator (SOI) platform will provide access to a broad array of product development teams to simplify their PIC design through the use of laser and SOA pcells, in addition to the feature-rich baseline PH18 process.
Initial process design kits (PDK) for PH18DB have been made available in partnership with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under the Lasers for Universal Microscale Optical Systems (LUMOS) program, which aims to bring high-performance lasers to advanced photonics platforms for commercial and defense applications, and multi-project wafer (MPW) runs are planned for 2023 and 2024.
The PH18DB platform complements Tower’s previously announced, and now prototyping, PH18DA platform, which offers heterogeneously integrated indium phosphide (InP) lasers, modulators and detectors.
These two heterogeneously integrated SiPho foundry platforms offer what is described as a rich set of devices and options to designers across the broad spectrum of leading-edge applications. Tower continues to offer its silicon-only PH18MA platform, now in high-volume production, for applications that do not require heterogeneous integration of III-V active elements.